John Colet

c.1466-1519. Dean of St. Paul's. Born in London where his father was lord mayor, he was educated at Oxford, and in Paris and Italy. Returning to Oxford, he delivered in 1497 a series of lectures on Paul's epistles marking the spirit of the S European Renaissance which was increasingly to prepare the way for the Reformation as it moved northward. The lectures are marked by critical comment and a concern to get back to the early sources behind all the medieval glosses and allegorizings.

Colet also shared the Renaissance humanist concern for reforming the clergy and church institutions, and also for furthering enlightened education. He attacked many clerical abuses, and though he did not advocate doctrinal reform, the suspicion of heresy was never far from him. Yet he was listened to by a wide circle; among the contemporaries whose thinking he influenced were Erasmus* and Sir Thomas More.* Colet founded St. Paul's School, London (still in existence), where he laid stress on the teaching of the classics. He was appointed dean of St. Paul's in 1505 and held the post until his death.

See J.H. Lupton, Life of John Colet (1909); E.W. Hunt, Dean Colet and His Theology (1956).